Microsoft has explored various ways to help people through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. From expanding Azure cloud capabilities to essential workers to providing new features across services. In its latest move, the company is talking up a Minecraft map that helps promote social distancing and provides information about COVID-19.

As the Minecraft team points out, social distancing is vital in a COVID-19 world. However, many people struggle with bring in lockdown and not seeing friends and loved ones. Many people have been left confused by the idea of social distancing and the new map aims to explain the situation.

Called Blockdown Simulator, the map focuses on educating users about the impact of COVID-19, how it is burdening the health system, and how social distancing helps. Minecraft developer Mojang says it won’t serve as an accurate tool, but it does help users “visualize the concept in a digestible way”.

Created by tech design firm AKQA, the map is a companion piece to the United Nations Development Programme and Heart17 for #TomorrowTogether. Helping to teach people about social distancing, the map involves a village that is under attack from infected Zombies.

Free to Play

Joseph Davies and Hugo Barne of AKQA, and the co-creators of Blockdown Simulator, say the map is available to play for free on Minecraft Java Edition.

“We felt compelled to use our skills to make social distancing models accessible to everyone,” explains Davies, “especially younger audiences who might be confused about the new reality we are living in. As a partner to Mojang and Heart17, we felt this was a fertile ground to speak about this issue to new audiences.”